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3 Strategies in Helping Young Adults Out of the Toxic Shame & Contempt Cycle

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As a young adult counselor, many of the young adults I see get caught in a vicious cycle. The cycle consists of two opposite (yet connected) extremes.

On the bottom end is the extreme of shame. Shame is thinking that you are less than other people. A young adult stuck in shame thinks that others are smarter, more attractive and luckier.

On the top end of the cycle is the extreme of grandiosity. Grandiosity is thinking that you are better than other people. A young adult stuck in grandiosity thinks that they are superior and worth more than others. Both shame and grandiosity are toxic and destroy relationships.

While polar opposites, they are also different sides of the same coin. Shame and grandiosity are both expressions of a deeper struggle with contempt.

Contempt is the feeling that a person is worthless and beneath consideration. Shame is contempt for yourself. Grandiosity is contempt for others. Both manifestations of contempt result in unhealthy views of self and others.

Practical Ways to Get out of the Shame, Grandiosity, & Contempt Cycle

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Shame, grandiosity, and the contempt cycle can have a strong negative impact on a young adult's sense of self. There are strategies that young adults can use to help them out of this vicious cycle.

Below are 3 strategies that can help young adults, as well as teens and adults alike, to help them out of the contempt cycle.

1. Identify Patterns

The first step in getting out of the cycle is identifying when you are stuck. One way to help you identify this is to keep a journal.

The goal of the journal is to write down when you notice yourself falling into shame or grandiosity. At the end of the day, you can reflect back on moments where you struggled:

  • A comment from a friend made you feel small (shame).

  • You looked down on someone that was different (grandiosity).

  • You isolated because you were feeling insecure (shame).

  • You ignored a co-worker because you had better things to do (grandiosity).

A journal will help you identify patterns. Whether it's shame or grandiosity, noticing patterns will help you get out of the cycle.

Sharing these patterns with a therapist who specializes in young adult therapy can make a significant difference in helping you out of the shame and contempt cycle.

2. Reinforcing a Respect-Based Identity

The opposite of contempt is respect. A shame-based identity does not respect oneself. The grandiosity-based identity does not respect others.

Respect is about acknowledging the inherent dignity of everyone, including yourself. Respect requires a realistic appraisal of oneself.

You are not better or worse than anyone. You are a flawed human being worthy of love and belonging.

Here are some ideas for reinforcing a respect-based identity:

  • Write a list of 5 things you admire about yourself

  • Write a list of 5 things you appreciate about a difficult person

  • Practice a spiritual ritual that reminds you of your inherent worth

  • Spend time helping those who are less privileged than you

3. Explore Your Cycle With a Therapist for Young Adults

Sometimes you need a professional to help you out of the cycle. Young adult counseling can help.

A young adult counselor can help you identify your struggle with contempt. They can guide you as you identify the roots of your struggle.

A young adult therapist can also explore strategies to help you get out of the extremes. Therapy can aid you in adopting a respect-based identity. If you can live out of a respect-based identity, you'll a much happier person.

Start Counseling for Young Adults at Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Katy, Tx & Houston

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At the Katy, Tx location of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we specialize in providing therapy for young adults. Shame and contempt are becoming more and more prevalent in a teen's and later, young adult's life.

Shame and contempt can be overcome. Shame will scream that it is hopeless and it can never be overcome.

Shame and contempt are like a living, breathing creature which thrives in the dark. Once you bring shame to the light of day through talk therapy, shame will start to disappear.

You don't have to live with shame and can live a life where self-love and acceptance are the daily sense of self. Shame and contempt often result in depression, anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, and can be a result of trauma experienced.

If you have been struggling with shame and contempt and you are feeling stuck, we can help. All you need to do is follow these three simple steps:

  1. Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling

  2. Start your journey to live a life free 0f the grip of social anxiety​

Other Therapy Services Provided by Katy Teen & Family Counseling: Katy, Tx & Houston

At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we want to help your young adult be as successful as they possibly can be. Overcoming social anxiety can help them accomplish this.

In addition to young adult counseling, we provide other therapeutic and counseling services for young adults, teens, and families such as:

About the Author

Man in front of tan brick wall, blue pin stiped dress shirt, and tan sports coat smiling. He provides couples therapy katy, tx and marriage counseling katy, tx 77494. He is also a young adult therapist katy, tx and young adult counselor katy, tx.

Quique Autrey is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). He is an experienced young adult therapist who has helped many young adults overcome their struggles.

He also is a family systems therapist. He views each individual through that lens and provides therapy for the family system which includes: teen therapy, young adult counseling, family counseling, marriage counseling & couples therapy.

Quique has helped those who experienced depression, anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD/ADD, and is trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Quique also has a passion for helping teens, young adults, and adults who may be on the Autism Spectrum. He has a talent for connecting with and helping people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

If you're ready to start your healing journey, you can call us at 346-202-4662 or email us at:

Company logo for Katy Teen and Family Counseling. Providing couples therapy katy, tx and marriage counseling katy, tx. Also providing teen therapy, teen counseling, young adult therapy, and young adult counseling katy, tx 77494.

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